Monday, June 02, 2003

More Deficits: Donald Luskin, who is usually pretty out front on these matters, takes up the FT article I linked to below:
The most cursory scan of these documents reveals instantly that this study is actually about nothing more than a new method to account for the present value of Social Security and Medicare liabilities.
This is pretty obvious, though, and I said as much. The lack of political will to effect entitlement reform is what this boils down to. Further, Luskin says:
It pains me to see President Bush getting beaten up over this, because he has done more than any other president to try to address the problems of Social Security and Medicare head on. He's dared to grasp the third rail of American politics, and to propose that Social Security be radically restructured to incorporate elements of personal choice.
But Bush cut and run on Social Security reform pretty quickly, didn't he? Sort of the way he sold out the vouchers plank of his "No Child Left Behind" proposal to kiss Ted Kennedy's ring. There's always a segment of fiscal conservatism, and perhaps Luskin is part of it, that keeps thinking that the GOP won't break their hearts this time. So Bush "grasped the third rail." So what? If it didn't kill him, it at least killed the issue. I'll bet Luskin a steak dinner (actual restaurant may vary) that any Social Security reform by 2008 will be anemic, at best -- a couple of points in strictly controlled funds.

Look, I'm with Bush on the terror thing, the Iraq thing, whatever. I agree that it's time to be hawkish when we move through the world. But back at home, Bush is a dove. Yes, he cut taxes, but not much, really, after his party walked away from him. You want my vote next year George?

1. Vouchers. Whenever my money is back in my hands, we all benefit.

2. Fiscal discipline: Let's see the budget start to shrink. Start with the farm bill, which carves out a special class of business that never has to lose, no matter the business cycle, weather, etc.

3. Entitlements: We're digging a hole. I'm willing to cut some second term slack on this, since getting re-elected is obviously more imporatant to you than doing the right thing. Don't cut and run on Social Security again.

4. Taxes. Flat.

Got it. Now we're friends again.

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